Kobe

Kobe? Here is a provincial city that feels like a town in the Kansai region. Again, I did not find much to visit there apart from the Kitano area where a lot of European style houses are built along the hill and the garden at the top, you may use the cable car or hike there.

However, I really like the city for the hills and the seaside, the many ramen and small shops and restaurants under the bridges and train rails, The city center has a European flair, arcades, small boutique, cafes with terraces, a walk on the seaside, the place is quieter than Osaka or Tokyo, so this is really a pleasure to spend an afternoon in Kobe

When Japan opened to the world, Dutch and Portuguese were the first to arrive in Nagasaki and then in Kobe because this was the port closer to Kyoto, the imperial city. Nowadays, some houses remain and Kobe is famous for the cakes and the bread because of this past times

Of course, the great earthquake in 1995 means most of the city is modern and rebuild, but sometimes, a good surprise and a nice building pops up.

Osaka – Light and Life

Osaka is such a contrast compared to Tokyo, very lively, this is the 3rd city of Japan, after Yokohama, and it is a great location 40mn from Kyoto by local train (20mn with the shinkansen), 50mn to Nara, 30mn to Kobe (15mn with shinkansen). People laugh, shout, scream, talk loudly in the streets and bars, there is a special atmosphere here.

Enjoy the capital of streetfood, and shopping, the numerous malls, and the modern buildings, Temma, Dotombori, Namba, Umeda, so much to enjoy, not much to visit but guaranteed great time. After that, I am privileged enough to get the sweets in my room with a view

 

March 11 – remembering

As we have just yesterday remembered the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a lot of press reviews came out with either stories or facts around the current status.

Many places are still yet to be cleaned up 8 years later and some villages are not yet reopen with 52.000 persons out of their homes since.

When I arrived, I read “Japan – the art of bending adversity” where a number of chapters cover the event and I learnt a lot not only on the history but on the Japanese way of thinking and behaving around the natural disasters through the history. let me highly recommend it

Fishermen could not operate for many years and some trials are now happening. I honestly worry about the water sent to the ocean from the nuclear plant, what is the impact? anyone has a view?

Lately, we are also facing a devastating situation where many people have been evacuated in 2011, their homes have not been restored yet, entire towns are still uncleaned but these same people are now asked to move back and make space in Tokyo to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Just last week, the government announced there will be a new organisation for rebuilding northeastern Japan areas.

 

Autumn colors

 

For those of you who wonder what the best season to Japan is, I would say that you need to consider October and November for the autumn colors

Part of the Shinto philosophy is about the nature and Japanese citizens take time to admire nature and season changing. We got into that mode too and spend a lot of time outdoor, peace, hike, wander, weather in Japan is a blessing in that season. temperatures gradually decrease from the exhausting 38 in the summer (90% humidity) to 10 in December, blue sky, dry air, very nice

Wakkanai

That’s it!! I can now say that I explored Japan from North to South, from Wakkanai to Ishigaki!!

We spent 3 days at the end of November in Wakkanai, and visited the northernmost point there.

CLIMATE

VERY cold and snowy already

 

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AMBIANCE

SOOOO unique… it felt like there were no inhabitants, very special, hardly any cars, hardly any people outside in the streets, very old fashioned shops. Most of them have signposts in Russian since we are so close.

There was a very limited choice of restaurants in town, so much so that we had to plan our 3 days around that list and booked them, stick to their working hours, etc

it is also the last train station up north, 2 trains a day to Sapporo, first time that we go to a station where you watch the train coming to you through the window as the rail does not go beyond (see above photo)

 

FOOD

amazingly fresh, simple, fish based, excellent, every meal was of very good quality

we had one lunch above the fish market, that was cute, 2 senior ladies run the place, tatami rooms, set lunch with excellent sashimi

we also had a very good dinner in a sashimi/sushi place

 

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overall, great if you like fish

We realised it had been so many years since we could tell the closest restaurant chain was over 3h drive away (no starbucks, no mc donald, no TGI etc,), there were actually no chains at all and it was even difficult to find a Kombini!! On the Sunday, I needed cash and could not find any ATM, go prepared

PEOPLE

really nice and smiling, curious, happy and proud to see us visiting, willing to share

 

HIGHLIGHTS

fish market – a small place but fantastic products, the fishmongers really tried hard to show us, explain, and even took us in the back office to see the crabs

Northermost point – so windy and cold but wild and beautiful, this is a 40mn bus drive from the train station, very easy, there is a bus every 20mn, they dont take suica or pasmo, you have to buy the ticket at the counter in the station or in the bus if you have change. Once there, apart from the monument itself, there is a hill with a windmill, a shrine and a breathtaking view over Russia and the sea, but my god, was it cold and windy that day!!

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this is a great place for a quiet week end – hiking and walking in the summer must be beautiful – in the winter, meditation, peace,

on day 2, at breakfast, there were deers in the garden behind the hotel. on day 3, we saw more of them wandering in the streets. a different Japan all together, we will go again! loved it after all

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Japan again

It has been a while, dear readers and friends, I was under the impression that I was mostly writing for myself about things I already knew and could not see the point any more so simply took a break.

Lately, as I had visitors again, they all asked about the posts and I regained the energy to share my experiences. Needless to say that a lot happened in these  4 months of silence, I will not be able to catch up with all but will try my best (gambarimasu) to share some of the highlights.

As always, thank you for your likes, shares, comments, questions, let me know your thoughts, feedback, questions and anything you would like me to add.

Happy to have you!! Arigato gozaimasu.

Delocalisation

In Russia, some companies have made the choice to delocalise their assets outside of Moscow so that it is cost effective. It seems that employees also like it. Could this be considered in France where everything is still so focused on Paris even though it is widely spoken about how to energize the provinces? I wonder and hope so much for this. How can you keep going for long with 2 societies in one country, one who has access to culture, transports, health, sport and one who has a second class schooling system, bad health treatments reaching the levels of the UK in terms of attendance at A&E ?? this is of course a general comment and cannot apply 100% to every single city in France but is very much so in the villages and towns.russie.pdf